The Mennonite Educational Institute junior girls won the Fraser Valley championship on Saturday, highlighting a busy weekend of playoff basketball.
The Eagles knocked off the Riverside Rapids 55-50 in the gold medal game, earning the school’s first junior girls regional title since 2003.
“MEI has had a great legacy of basketball for a long time, but it hasn’t been there (at that level) for a while,” Eagles coach Samantha Hawkes said. “This group of juniors is definitely setting us up to build on that legacy. It’s exciting to be a part of.”
Taylor Claggett paced the Eagles with 24 points in the title game, while tournament MVP Tessa Ratzlaff had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Sam Walton, a first team all-star, chipped in with eight points for the Eagles, who move on to provincials March 8-10 at the Langley Events Centre.
In other junior girls action, the W.J. Mouat Hawks fell 49-46 to Holy Cross of Surrey in the bronze medal game, while the Yale Lions lost to Brookswood in the fifth-sixth placing game.
JUNIOR BOYS: The Eagles junior boys also had a memorable weekend – they beat crosstown rival Mouat 66-46 in the Valley bronze medal game to claim the region’s final provincial berth.
“We’d beaten them three times previously, and I was definitely concerned, because it’s tough to beat a good team three times in a row,” said Eagles coach Arnie Dick, noting that his team was able to control the tempo against the high-octane Hawks.
MEI’s Tony Hao scored 20 points, while twin brothers Mitch and Greg Krahn notched 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Eagles, who move on to the B.C.’s at Vancouver College, March 8-10.
SENIOR AAA BOYS: Mouat and Yale were victorious in the first game of the double-knockout portion of the Fraser Valleys on Friday, while the Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers were pushed to the brink of elimination.
Mouat beat Princess Margaret 73-54, while Yale blitzed Port Moody 82-53. The Panthers fell 70-50 to the Terry Fox Ravens.
All three teams were back in action on Monday evening; a full schedule can be found at fvbball.org.
SENIOR AAA GIRLS: The Yale Lions won bronze at the Valleys, edging Gleneagle 49-47 on Saturday. The Lions had already locked up a provincial berth by virtue of their top-four finish; their B.C. tourney runs March 7-10 at Capilano University in North Vancouver.
SENIOR BOYS AA: The Abbotsford Christian Knights came into the Fraser Valleys ranked No. 14 in the province, but they pulled off a pair of upsets to notch a provincial berth.
The Knight edged No. 5-ranked Southridge of Surrey 53-51 in an elimination game on Friday, then crushed No. 8 Archbishop Carney 72-42 in the bronze medal game Saturday.
“We got thumped by No. 2-ranked G.W. Graham earlier in the season, and they were just tougher than us,” Abby Christian coach Keith Stewart said. “The whole attitude of the team changed. Our guys worked really hard in practice at beating on each other, so they could handle that. We’re a much better team now.”
SENIOR GIRLS AA: Abby Christian beat Abby Collegiate 62-45 in the bronze medal game, but both local teams are off to provincials (March 7-10 in Kamloops).
The Knights’ Carley Goertzen was a first-team all-star, while Chanelle Steenkamp earned second team all-star honours.
Panthers forward Tiffany Picketts was picked for the second all-star team. Her squad punched its provincial ticket with a thrilling 59-57 quarter-final win over Pitt Meadows. With the clock ticking down, Brittney Larson scored the winning basket on a driving layup.
“It’s been close to 20 years since the senior girls have been to provincials,” enthused Panthers coach Elmore Abraham, noting that the traditional AAA school moved down to AA this season.
SENIOR A BOYS: St. John Brebeuf beat Credo Christian 63-50 in the bronze medal game to claim the region’s final provincial berth. Point guard E.J. Rabanes was named a tourney all-star after racking up 33 points in the win.
“I’m ecstatic with the boys,” Bears coach Len De Julius said. “In the first half, they were a little nervous, perhaps. But in the second half, they showed a great deal of resilience.”
GRADE 9 BOYS: The Bateman Timberwolves, coming off a first-place finish in their division, were the top local finisher at the Valleys. They ended up in fifth, knocking off Terry Fox 47-28 in the fifth-sixth placing game.
GRADE 8 GIRLS: The W.A. Fraser Falcons play for the Fraser Valley title vs. Lord Tweedsmuir of Surrey on Monday evening.
GRADE 8 BOYS: The Clayburn Cougars and Fraser Falcons play for bronze on Monday, while Abby Middle takes on Lord Tweedsmuir in the fifth-sixth game.